Florida! We spent November 15, 2020 to December 2, 2020 meandering through this intriguing state.
I am not going to lie, I was not into the idea of spending a lot of time in Florida. I mean, I was looking forward to the sun and potential for warm weather, but otherwise it was not a place I was excited to visit.
The only reason we even stayed in the state for two and a half weeks is because our 6yo wanted to celebrate his 6th birthday by holding an alligator. Naturally, my first thought was tying this in with my goal of visiting as many national parks as possible and it seemed logical to do it in the state most known for its alligators.
I think you will see, Florida won me over. I now see its appeal and I will absolutely (without a doubt) be back.
Canaveral National Seashore
Our first week was spent at Manatee Hammock Campground near Canaveral National Seashore. I picked this location 100% because it was near the seashore and I wanted to see it.
I did see it (see below), but that is not why we will remember this campground. We will remember it because the day we arrived there was a manned rocket launch happening at NASA and our delightful campground was literally across the river from the launch site. We had up-close seats and we all watched our first ever rocket launch.
Florida sure did welcome us well. We also grabbed beer and delicious food from a brewery close by. Man, what an evening.
We will likely also remember the lizards. My children were over the moon with all the lizards!
Canaveral National Seashore Exploring
At some point during the week drove over to the National Seashore, but unfortunately, I did not check the tide schedule. We were there at high tide and the 3yo does not like being close to the waves. So this adventure was a bit of a bust.
This place was gorgeous! The shells took me by surprise. I had never in my life seen so many seashells in one place. I plopped myself down and just began to run my fingers through the sand and shells. My 6yo immediately began making a treasure pile. We had to bargain on the number he could take home, his initial pile was far too big.
I failed on this day too. I forgot all the sun protection, so we did not stay too long. I choose to believe it is because I had gotten used to the fall and winter weather. The sunny warm days knocked my preparation game off a tad.
Enchanted Forest Sanctuary Hike
This is a place I would return to often. Not only is the name fantastic, but the trails in the Enchanted Forest will cast a spell on you (see what I did there?). We loved it because you are literally walking through the different types of natural landscapes Florida has to offer. We saw a snake and a tortoise in the wild too. I highly recommend these trails. And during the non-Covid19 days there is a lovely little nature center with interactive activities for children. This part was, of course, closed during our visit, but I was able to glance at everything when we went in to use the bathrooms.
Royal Palm Hammock Trail Hike
This was another lovely hiking trail. We did not see any wildlife, which was a bummer, but we did enjoy ourselves. It was flat and neat for the kids to explore, especially because there were so many different plants and swamp areas.
To celebrate our eldest’s 6th birthday, we went on an airboat tour. He wanted to hold an alligator for his birthday and the alligator farms did not jive with our idea of a good time. So instead, Doug and I decided to take the family on an airboat tour. We not only saw a ton of birds, we also saw herds of cows, and a few alligators. I am not a bird person, but I have begun to appreciate them a bit. Two types of birds I have a particular fondness for are water birds (like Great Blue Herons and Egrets) and birds of prey (like hawks or owls). We saw so many water birds. It was wonderful!!
Everglades National Park
First, I have to mention the iguanas. I did not know iguanas were a thing in Florida and I was completely over the moon to see them relaxing along the roadside. It became a sort of game for me to spot them. I had to stop pointing them out because the children kept missing them and getting upset. Oops.
Anyway, after our first week of sunny Florida, I was really looking forward to this place. I won’t lie, it wasn’t as wonderful as I imagined, but it was still quite lovely.
We celebrated Thanksgiving here too, and I cooked our vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner in the humid and warm everglades in our RV without any hookups. This means we didn’t have power (no AC or microwave) and no endless supply of water. We also set out for our first Hikes-giving hike and it ended up a complete failure. We maybe hiked about 1/4 mile before the trail was completely flooded and we had to turn back.
Everglade Hikes and Junior Ranger Program
As with all the National Parks, I make it a point to explore them as much as possible. Unfortunately for us, a lot of the trails were closed due to flooding. We were apparently there during the end of the rainy season and therefore the height of the water level. We did find two very similar trails to explore.
We also spent time completing the Junior Ranger books. The kids love doing the activities and enjoy all their badges, but absolutely dislike interacting with the rangers. So each and every time we finish the books and it is time to swear in and get their badges, I look like the mom who pushes her kids to do things they don’t have an interest in doing.
Our last few days in Florida were spent at a little campground (Tallahassee RV Park). There was a pecan tree, and our 6yo is obsessed with them. He will crack them open and eat the pecan meat on repeat. It is a favorite activity for sure. Whenever we settle down and buy another house, we will be planting a pecan tree for that kid.
Timberlane Ravine Park Hike
Another one of those hikes I would love to see at different times of the year. It was just such a neat trail system and great for the kids to run and explore.
And that wraps up our two and a half weeks in the sunshine state. I am glad Florida changed my mind, because we missed some seriously amazing places and I didn’t get to see a manatee. So I will need to go back.
Coming soon to a blog near you are our adventures in Alabama and Louisiana!
CURRENT ADVENTURE STATS:
On the road: 17 months
Miles towing our home: 14,659
Campgrounds visited: 83
Breweries visited: 38
National Parks visited: 18/62
National Monuments/Seashores/Historic Sites/etc.: 8
State Parks visited: 21